£4.7m cross-border initiative to improve water for thousands
NI Water has teamed up with Irish Water to deliver a major £4.7m joint project to help boost the quality of services in border regions.
The scheme aims to improve water quality in rivers and lakes in the Lough Erne and Derg catchment areas, which provide the mains water that serves parts of counties Fermanagh, Tyrone, Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Longford.
The Source to Tap project is funded by the EU's Interreg VA programme, through the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), together with funding from the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland and the Department for Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) in the Republic of Ireland.
NI Water is the lead partner in the initiative, working in collaboration with Irish Water and other bodies, including the Ulster University and The Rivers Trust.
NI Water chairman Dr Len O'Hagan, who helped launch the scheme at Waterways Ireland headquarters in Enniskillen, said: "This project will enhance at source the quality of water for thousands of homes, businesses, schools and hospitals across the region.
"Innovation, sustainability and partnership are at its core.
"Partnership between governments on both sides of the border; partnership with the SEUPB who are the principal funder of the work; partnership between various government agencies; and, most significant of all, partnership between ourselves, the local community and all those for whom the natural environment is such a precious resource.
"Working together it will help us to protect raw water quality at source across both jurisdictions by reducing the contaminants getting into the water in the first place, and raise awareness of the importance of protecting our precious drinking water resource."
The project aims to put "community and stakeholder engagement at the heart of the work with farmers, land managers, forestry providers and the wider community".
Dave Foster, director of regulatory and natural resources policy at DAERA, welcomed the move, saying: "The department is delighted to contribute match funding to this project.
"This project represents an investment in the future quality of our drinking water and, by researching and testing methods other than traditional end of pipe solutions, should deliver sustainable long term improvements in water quality."